In the social gaming webspace, companies vie to produce headline grabbing research and/ or claims on their blogs to show (potential investors) how much evidence there is to support their business models. I’m not saying the research or claims are wrong – only that you have to take them with a grain of salt.
This is the category in which BigPoint Games claim that players are perfectly OK with pay-to-win cash shops falls. It could be true, but it’s a message for investors. As is today’s headline catching research finding from Flurry that older players pay more in freemium games. This particular survey focussed on freemium games on mobile phones, and they sound to be more like social games than MMOs.
They show that younger players (under 24) spend more time and less money in these games than older ones. And the 25-54 year old age group accounts for almost 80% of revenue. So basically, the core users are not the core spenders. I’m sure if devs could think of a way to appeal more strongly to the older, spendier, age group they’d do it.
But what can we conclude about this, really? As they say on their blog, older players are likely to have more money and more commitments (less time). Maybe if the younger players had more money, they’d spend even more than the older ones.
But simply having more money and less time doesn’t answer why they spend more, even when they are mostly paying to avoid time-wasting grinding. They could have simply ditched the game and found one that was more simpatico with their available time. Bejewelled, after all, doesn’t care if you only have 10 minutes during lunchtime to play it. Or spend the extra cash on something else.
Maybe as achievers get older, they get even more focussed on the actual achievements and perks and have less patience for jumping through hoops to get them. Especially when their own income has increased and they are more used to paying to avoid things they don’t want to do personally. Or maybe buying virtual luxury goods is the poor man’s equivalent of the mid-life crisis sports car. But it would be fun to do an experiment with giving a load of players of different ages a bunch of cash shop points for some game and seeing whether the older players spend more than the younger ones.
And it does leave the question: If you know that most of your paying players will pay to avoid grinds, doesn’t it make sense to design more and more grinds into your game so that you can sell short cuts?